Extension of Monash Bioethics Partnership with WHO

The Monash Bioethics Centre has officially been re-designated as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Bioethics for an additional four years.

The Centre was initially designated as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Bioethics in July 2014, and the partnership will now continue until 2022.

WHO headquarters, Geneva

Monash Bioethics Centre Director Professor Michael Selgelid said the Centre is delighted to continue the collaboration.

“The collaboration is directly aligned with the Monash Bioethics Centre's aim to conduct practically-relevent and policy-oriented bioethics research, addressing some of the world's most important global health challenges”

The Centre’s work with WHO largely focuses on ethical issues associated with infectious disease and research ethics in particular.

“Among other engagements with WHO in recent years, we have contributed to WHO’s deliberations regarding public health emergencies such as Ebola and Zika,” Professor Selgelid said.

The Centre’s work with WHO also includes bioethics education and awareness-raising activities in the region.

As one of 10 such Centres worldwide, the Monash Bioethics Centre is part of the Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centres for Bioethics, which has been Chaired by Selgelid for the past two years.

In addition to enriching the Monash Bioethics Centre’s research portfolio, and the impact thereof, the WHO partnership has benefited the Monash Bioethics Centre's teaching programs. 

“Our teaching is informed by first-hand experience grappling with some of the latest real-world ethical dilemmas regarding global public health policy,” Professor Selgelid said.

Tess Johnson, a Master of Bioethics student, said the Centre’s noteworthy connection with WHO encouraged her to choose Monash.

“The continued relationship between Monash and the WHO is so important,” Tess said.

“It offers so many opportunities not only for those who wish to apply for the fully-funded WHO internship in Geneva, but for students to know that they are receiving a high-quality and practically useful education from an institution that's amazingly well-connected to organisations.”

Coming from a biology background, Tess was drawn to the big questions that relate to how people see the world and their place within it.

“The kind of issues we address range on topics from organ trade, to genetic engineering in humans, to public health policy. It's not always possible to answer questions about the ethics of these issues directly, but bioethicists work to further our knowledge of what's at stake, getting familiar with these questions and thinking about what an ethical analysis has to offer in forming more ethical policy, or responding to emergencies better, or improving healthcare,” Tess said.

The degree has inspired Tess to continue to study the expanding area of philosophy. She plans to pursue a career as an academic bioethicist and to start a PhD in philosophy next year, hoping to one day be published in academic journals.

“I think that studying and pursuing a career in bioethics is one way to find out how we can behave in a moral way and create a better world that's more equal, more kind and more free,” Tess said.

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